LeWeb ’11 Startup Competition Deadline Is October 15

This year, Guidewire Group is a partner with LeWeb’11 to produce the Startup Competition at the Paris conference, December 7 – 9.  Eligible companies will have less than $1M in financing and will introduce their latest product during the conference. To date, more than 500 startups have used our new G/SCORE(tm)software platform to apply for one of the coveted 16 finalist spots at the event.

Thanks to those entrepreneurs who have already completed their applications. They have thrown their hats in the ring to compete with an impressive group of startups and we wish all of them good luck!

From the applications we receive by the deadline, 36 companies will invited to compete in the next round of judging. Companies will submit a short video pitch that tells us why your company is among the most innovative in the SoLoMo space. We’ll contact contestants by October 31 with the results of the first round of judging. If you’re in the next round, we’ll share details about the video competition.

All applicants to the LeWeb Startup Competition have early, complimentary access to Guidewire Group’s G/SCORE Analytics application to benchmark their businesses and track their progress against other startups. By keeping the G/SCORE profile up to date, your business’s progress and success will also be visible to investors, corporate partners and M&A executives who use the G/SCORE Analytics application to find and track innovative startups.

For those who have not yet completed a LeWeb Startup Competition application, please see the instructions below for logging in to complete a profile and  G/SCORE self-assessment. It only takes a few minutes to complete the process. Applications are due by October 15, 2011 and we can only consider completed applications.

Steps For Completing Self-Assessment:
Once you’ve logged into the application (http://leweb.guidewiregroup.net), there are three tabs at the top: FOLLOW, DISCOVER, and SCORE. Click the SCORE tab. You should then see a drop down that contains all the companies you’ve created and are following. Select your company in that drop down if it’s not already selected. Click Begin Assessment to complete self assessment.

Steps for Requesting Certified Assessment:
After Completing a Self Assessment, you will be taken back to the main SCORE page. This page will now show the date which you created the assessment and some options to perform on that assessment, such as Publish or Request. Click the Request link to request a certified assessment. You will then be taken to a form. Provide a URL to a video if you so choose. Make some notes for the reviewer also if you so choose. Lastly, click submit. Then you’re done.

Business Will Debate and Design Future of the Web: Bilbao Web Summit

One day, the big thinkers who dream up Web protocols were sitting around the table, trying to imagine the future Web.  Among the engineers and technical policy wonks was a young entrepreneur and computer scientist who had the audacity to ask a simple question:  What does business want for the Web?

From that question, an international summit was born.  The Bilbao Web Summit intends to create a bridge from the technologists who build the Web to the business leaders who leverage it.  Across two days, leaders from business, government, and education will describe what they are doing – and more importantly, what they would like to do – to leverage technology for their commercial and public sector advantage.  The goal: put business and technical experts at the same table to design the next generation of the Web, based on a business point of view.

The summit will convene round tables to debate the future of finance, commerce, health, education, government, and media.  Of the seven intensive focus areas, only one will address technical standards. In addition to these debates, the Summit will bestow its first biennial

Driven by the indefatigable Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria, founder and CEO, of Anboto Group, The Bilbao Web Summit runs May 17 and 18 at the stunning Guggenheim Museum and Euskalduna Conference Center  in Bilboa, Spain.   I’ll be there to help animate the debate. If you want to influence the future of the Web, perhaps you should be there, too.

Innovate!100′s #5 ividence Closes $4.2M Series A

Who says European startups can’t raise serious venture capital?

Word came from ividence CEO Eric Didier this morning that 2-year old startup, ividence, closed a $4.2 million Series A financing with A Plus Finance, a Paris-based private equity firm.  ividence is a SaaS email ad network that generates traffic to advertisers’ Web sites by using targeted email campaigns.

The company’s proprietary algorithms and innovative email ad server belie the current thinking that email marketing is no longer effective. When we first met ividence in late 2009, the company was already generating revenues of about $100,000 per month. Since that time, Didier has guided the company’s expansion across Europe and into the U.S.  The new capital will allow him to move more aggressively to capture the market.

So why was ividence successful raising venture capital when so many European entrepreneurs (or for that matter, U.S. startups) struggle to do the same? See the previous paragraph.  ividence has focused on revenue from Day One.  The site now manages some 3,000 email campaigns a month generating thousands of leads for clients including Groupon, Citreon, and Dish Network.

ividence intends to use its new cash position to aggressively grow its team. The company expects to add 20 jobs to the business this year.

Zaragoza (Spain) Opens Entrepreneurial Incubator

Congratulations are in order for our partner, the City of Zaragoza in northern Spain, which completed a key milestone in the city’s transformation to an information economy.  Centro de Incubación Empresarial (CIEM) a 2,000 sq meter facility opened this month to house up to 30 young companies building businesses in information and green technology and alternative energy.

Designed to be a zero emission building, the center was conceived in response to the economic crisis that hit Spain in 2009.  I was in Zaragoza less than two years ago when city leaders proposed the incubator as a means of fostering startups and creating new, high-value jobs in the region.  The city broke ground for the facility last May and opened its doors less than 10 months later.  The quick pace from conception to completion gives one hope that governments can move decisively and quickly when opportunity avails itself, and Mayor Belloch and his team should be congratulated for the vision and will to get the job done.

CIEM will be managed by another visionary institution in Zaragoza, the City of Knowledge Foundation, managed by my friend Ricardo Pedrol.  The Foundation was conceived by the Belloch administration as the instrument to create and engage with innovative programs that advanced the city’s quest to embrace information technology and entrepreneurship as a new economic driver.  By empowering the Foundation to act on new innovation initiatives, the city can move quickly to institute new programs without getting bogged down in political squabbles.

While CIEM will focus initially on housing and supporting local and regional companies, the broader vision for the Center is to serve as an incubator for Spanish companies generally, and ultimately as a gateway for companies outside of Spain seeking to move into the Spanish market.  For entrepreneurs in the Guidewire Group network, CIEM becomes an important node in global network of organizations supporting the global ambitions of startups.  Just as Guidewire Group’s Studio G is a “soft landing” for companies making forays into Silicon Valley, CIEM will become a landing zone for  U.S. companies seeking to enter the Spanish and European market.

Guidewire Group has enjoyed a long relationship with the City of Zaragoza, which played host to our Innovate! conference series since 2005, and which helped us transform our model into a business acceleration program that enables foreign Economic Development Agencies to support their entrepreneurs with a greater global understanding of the innovation ecosystem.   In fact, Guidewire Group will return to Zaragoza the week of June 20, 2011 for an intensive week of Studio G workshops.

I’m looking forward to our return to Zaragoza and exploring this important new facility.

For more information about CIEM, Contact Ricardo Pedrol

1 Year, 5 Continents, 30 Cities, 100 Top Startups

A year ago, Guidewire Group embarked on an ambitious plan to seek out the Innovate!100, a global list of the 100 startups demonstrating high potential and higher velocity as they build their businesses from idea to sustainability.   Today, after more than 30 Pitch Slam events in more than 30 cities on five continents, we’re proud to announce the Innovate!100 for 2010.

It’s been an incredible year and an incredible honor to meet, assess, and in some cases work closely with so many innovative companies, founded and run by an extraordinary group of entrepreneurs.  At each  Pitch Slam, startups presented their businesses to panels of judges who used our G/SCORE assessment methodology to evaluate how far each company was along seven key vectors of business growth.  The G/SCORE measures a company along seven factors: overall concept, market opportunity, competitive risk, product development, business development, team, and business model.  In each factor, our judges compare the company to key milestones that represent achievement in business building.

Using the G/SCORE data, combined with other information about the companies, our judges ranked the startups at each event.  The top company at each Pitch Slam event automatically made the Innovate!100 List.  Then, we selected the top-scoring companies, overall, and then the top five companies in each of our growth stage tiers (prototype, beta, product complete, revenue).   Finally, this week, 16 companies honed their pitches at the Guidewire Group Studio G workshop in Zaragoza, Spain.  Yesterday, the companies competed in the final Pitch Slam at the Innovate!Summit 2010, received a G/SCORE benchmark assessment, and answered questions before our panel of judges.  By the end of the day, one company- Anboto Group – took the top spot upon the Innovate!100 List for 2010.

We wish to thank all the companies that applied and pitched at an Innovate! event this year, as well as the many judges and attendees who worked to make the event a success.  We’re also grateful for the sponsors that made this quest possible, including Microsoft BizSpark, SWIFT, Atlassian, Microsoft Bing and Microsoft Azure, Cisco, O2 Litmus, PayPal,  and Quickstart Global, along with our long-time partner, Zaragoza City of Knowledge Foundation.

On behalf of all those entrepreneurs, sponsors, and supporters, we’re delighted to announce this year’s Innovate!100 List.

The Innovate!100 2010

Rank Company Country
1 Anboto Group Spain
2 Artesian Solutions United Kingdom
3 RedOxygen Australia
4 NUMENUS GmbH Germany
5 ividence France / United States
6 myERP.com United States
7 Relay Foods United States
8 Intelia Consultores Spain
9 SocialSmack United States
10 NUITEQ Sweden
11 FonYou Spain
12 PetsMD United States
13 Now!Innovations Estonia
14 iAsset Australia
15 Gumiyo.com United States
16 Homing.com Spain
17 Anneysen.com Turkey
18 Sopima Oy Finland
19 iletken / SocialWire Turkey
20 FanFeedr United States
21 iFacturas Norway / Spain
22 LUMA International Netherlands
23 Spring Gully Foods Australia
24 Innovalley Spain / United States
25 me & goji United States
26 Evanscorp Australia
27 Skimlinks United Kingdom
28 Optify United States
29 Canatu Finland
30 Smart Logic United Kingdom
31 Waze Israel
32 Scense B.V. Netherlands
33 TicTacDo France
34 SentiMetrix Italy
35 Smart Grains France
36 TellMeWhere France
37 Myworksearch Ltd United Kingdom
38 Siondo United Kingdom
39 Kobojo France
40 Paycheck Manager United States
41 3ScaleNetworks Spain
42 CloudShare United States
43 EventElephant Ireland
44 Inference Communication Australia
45 Over The Top Games Spain
46 Sonru.com Ireland
47 Werkadoo United States
48 Apica Sweden
49 Ulteo France
50 Taleee United States
51 Leetchi France
52 EcoVadis France
53 TaxiPal Estonia
54 Novapost France
55 Stupeflix France
56 Cellictica Ltd. Finland
57 Hiive Systems Australia
58 Green Revolution Cooling United States
59 Austrailian Survey Research Australia
60 Conceptic Israel
61 Kinamik United States
62 Sentinel Spain
63 Valt.X United States
64 Sparkeo Israel
65 The Gifts Project Israel
66 Hypios France
67 BehavioSec Sweden
68 Wozaik France
69 Pantea Italy
70 Pervactive Italy
71 Spreaker Italy
72 Kade System Turkey
73 MyLawsuit.com United States
74 Shutl United Kingdom
75 InternMatch United States
76 DriveK Italy
77 SocialAnnex Spain
78 TaskPoint United States
79 Tracks & Fields GmbH Germany
80 Tribe of Noise Netherlands
81 Vanios Spain
82 WOT Services Ltd. Finland
83 Bookioo Spain
84 Edicy Estonia
85 Whereoscope United States
86 Aviator Controls Australia
87 Fits.me Estonia
88 Tinypay.me Netherlands
89 Jasondb Australia
90 iris2iris BV Netherlands
91 AdTaily United Kingdom
92 Threeplicate Italy
93 Tryane France
94 Sordu.com Turkey
95 IDU Biometrics Israel
96 Nutiteq Estonia
97 GrabCAD Estonia
98 Getitkeepit.com Ireland
99 OrderMapper United States
100 Groupvine United States

First Finalists for Innovate!Europe

Several weeks ago, we published a list of the participating startups in our Going Global workshop for Innovate!Europe. The kickoff workshop in Zaragoza had 24 enthusiastic startups, all hungry for knowledge and tips on succeeding in Silicon Valley and beyond. With such great ideas and innovative entrepreneurs, it was difficult to narrow down the field. But we’ve chosen nine companies as finalists who will now advance to the Master Class, to be held in Zaragoza May 4-6. We’re headed to London and Dublin next week for our next round of workshops so look for more Innovate!Europe news in the coming weeks. And if you’re a startup near London or Dublin, there’s still time to apply!

Congratulations to:

Unkasoft Advergaming – mobile advertising inside any type of mobile app

Alphasip – nanotech diagnostic medical systems

Ideas4All – global community of ideas to build the global brain

SevenClick – mobile push communication platform, allowing encryption in multi-device environments

Trourist – travel social network to create and collaborate on trips

eBox Technologies – administration of corporate networks, specifically focused on SMBs

Mapalia – local social network for, ultimately, every city in the world

Cierzo – helping brands track customer feedback across the Web

Safe Creative – free online copyright registration for the digital era

Innovation in Zaragoza

We’re back from an incredible kickoff to our Going Global workshops in Zaragoza, Spain for Innovate!Europe. When we initially announced Innovate, we knew we’d see some good entrants from entreprenuers in Europe but weren’t prepared for the overwhelming response. We had a packed day in Zaragoza last week, with 24 participating startups, and applications for upcoming cities are pouring in. We’ve added new cities to keep up with demand, so take a look at the calendar and be sure to get your company in soon if you’d like to participate in the other workshops.

Before everyone heads off for the holidays, I thought I’d post a quick round-up of the startups we saw in Zaragoza. We’ll add color commentary on them soon but in the meantime, take a look at the innovation coming out of Spain.

Iris Experience – online widget creation for websites, desktops and mobile phones.

Safe Creative – free online copyright registration for the digital era

Spainsoft – inventory and management of knowledge assets

Cierzo Development – helping brands track customer feedback across the Web

Fasenet – tools for e-learning and enterprise internal training

Bitext -  natural language capabilities for any application

Mapalia – local social network for, ultimately, every city in the world

SevenClick – mobile push communication platform, allowing encryption in multi-device environments

Unkasoft – mobile “advergaming” – place any type of ad inside any type of mobile app

Litebi – business intelligence delivered via software as a service

Ta with you – text and image translation for the mobile phone

Elondra – salesforce applications for mobile phones

aquaMobile – making printed material interactive

SinAlergia – preventive healthcare consumer resources for common diseases

eBox – administration of corporate networks, specifically focused on SMBs

Trourist – travel social network to create and collaborate on trips

Open City Technology – e-government platform for developed and developing local governments

Ideas4All – global community of ideas to build the global brain

mmChannel – multichannel digital entertainment and community enablement solutions

Alphasip – nanotech diagnostic medical systems

MobilCash – global, easy to implement mobile payment systems

Groupvision Consulting – group collaboration tools for every type of team

Brio Can Play – applying artificial intelligence to video game creation

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Music for the Masses

I met with Songkick at SXSW, a Y Combinator startup that aims to bring live music to the masses. The London-based company is announcing some exciting new features next week (I call it “music semantics”) but for now, I’ll share what interests me about its current offerings.

CEO Ian Hogarth wants to “change the way people think about their Friday nights.” His reasoning is simple: when consumers want to see a movie, they do a quick check on Fandango or Moviefone and head out. Going to a concert just isn’t as easy. Even following the tour dates of mainstream artists is a headache, with listings and ticket sales scattered far and wide online. Songkick scrapes all those sites for you, grabbing venue and ticket info from major ticket hubs, as well as MySpace pages and music blogs. Users have a one-stop-shop for band listings, in addition to an instant price comparison list of competing vendors.

That’s all well and good for music lovers but what I really like about Songkick is its intent to appeal to the mass consumer. Through several innovative tools, the company wants to create more music lovers out of its audience. The Songkicker plug-in for iTunes, Winamp and Windows Media Player scans users’ music catalogs and lets them know of artists in their library playing nearby. Bandsense is a distributed ad platform that recommends area bands based on your IP address (check it out at www.missingtoof.com). And Battle of the Bands is a fun little app that combines MySpace data, blog mentions and Amazon sales to produce an Alexa-like ranking chart for bands.

Throughout our conversation, I kept attempting to bring Ian back to the technology; how recommendation and discovery are a hot market sector and that his algorithms could possibly be applied to other areas. But he would have none of it. Songkick isn’t interested in boasting about the brilliance of its technology. They’re singularly focused on using that technology to make live music more approachable to the general public. It’s a refreshing attitude to encounter in a startup and bodes well for the company’s future success. With most companies in tech today, considerable force is usually necessary to make them keep end-users top-of-mind. Songkick has been there from the start.

Sun Expands Its Startup Program

We were so consumed with all things DEMO last week, that we almost overlooked Sun‘s announcement that it was expanding its “Startup Essentials” program to Canada, France, and Germany. The program gives developers substantial discounts on Sun hardware and software services in a bid for Sun to be the dominant platform for Web 2.0 applications and services.

Seeded in the U.S. in 2006 and expanded to China, India, Israel, and the U.K., the Startup Essentials program has had about 1,600 startups register to date, according to the company, with some 200 companies submitting new applications each month. Sun Startup Essentials is free to eligible companies, those in business fewer than four years and with less than 150 employees. In addition to deeply discounted hardware, participant companies have access to low-cost Web hosting services provided by Sun partners in the communities supported by the program, along with free technical support via e-mail. Sun also hosts occasional “Startup Camps” in key geographies; the next will be held in London in early March.

I talked with Sun’s director of Startups and Emerging Markets Sanjay Sharma about the program prior to the announcement, mostly curious about the country-by-country roll out of the program. After all, in the Web 2.0 world that Sun hopes to conquer, every application is potentially a global one. Why cherry-pick regions when a program like this can blanket the planet with electronic resources? Continue reading

Sun Acquires MySQL

We were pleased to read the news this morning that Sun Microsystems tendered a $1 billion offer to acquire open-source database provider MySQL. The deal has significance in a number of ways, not the least of which is the financial windfall to founder Marten Mickos and the company’s investors, Index, Benchmark, IVP, Intel and SAP, who put a reported total of $39million into the MySQL.

First, it’s further evidence that open source plus services business models can work, andMySQL logo that is no doubt as important to Sun as is the position MySQL gives Sun in the $15 billion enterprise database market. Sun demonstrated its commitment to free and open software when it turned the foundations of Solaris, Java, StarOffice, and other component technologies over to Open Source. But somehow, the acquisition of MySQL is a grander “money where your mouth is” gesture and solidifies Sun’s commitment to Open Source in the enterprise.

Here’s what CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote in his blog this morning:

The good news is Sun is already committed to the business model at the heart of MySQL’s success – first investing to grow communities of users and developers, and only then creating commercial services that attract (rather than lock in) paying customers. Over the past few years, we’ve distributed hundreds of millions of licenses and invested to build some of the free software world’s largest communities. . . . Free and open software has become a way of life at Sun.

. . . With this acquisition, we will have . . . positioned Sun at the center of the web, as the definitive provider of high performance platforms for the web economy. . . This creates enormous potential for Sun, for the global free software community, and for our partners and customers across the globe. (Read the entire post here.)

There’s a second and more subtle — but extremely important — impact of the MySQL acquisition and that is the impact the announcement may have on European technology startup communities. Throughout Europe, technology entrepreneurship remains an oddity, and success stories are relatively rare. We’ve worked within the European technology community for nearly a decade and can still count on our available digits the number of grand-slam exits for tech startups there, and the social and cultural risk of entrepreneurship remains high.

Perhaps, Mårten put it best during a keynote speech at Guidewire Group’s Innovate!Europe 2005 conference, as he accepted the award as Entrepreneur of the Year. Society’s values, he said, are reflected in the heroes it chooses. “We must celebrate entrepreneurs and turn them into heroes in order to build a society that values and honors technology and business innovation.”

Mårten and MySQL have become heroes.